Jimmy Kim, Cofounder and CEO, Sendlane
Life in the Fast Lane
From washing cars, to selling them, to building businesses, Sendlane CEO Jimmy Kim credits focus as the key to his rise to the top.
Like many children of Asian-American immigrants, Jimmy Kim knew his parents had high expectations for him. When he was a child, his mom told him that he needed to become a doctor because that would make him the most money.
“I don’t wanna be a doctor,” the young Kim replied. “I’m gonna make more money than a doctor.”
Fast forward to 2018, and Kim is making good on that promise to his parents, as an entrepreneur working in online marketing.
He’s built and sold multiple companies, and now sits at the helm of the fast-growing email marketing software Sendlane. The bootstrapped company employs 25 full-time employees in its newly remodeled, 6,000-square-foot office in San Diego. As of May, Sendlane had already more than doubled its revenue over 2017 and was on track to triple or even quadruple that number by the end of the year.
How did he get here? Kim attributes his success to one thing: focus.
From Washing Cars to Building Businesses
At 15, Kim was entirely focused on one goal: saving up enough money to buy a car. He started working 10 hours a week making pizzas at a local shop. But earning $4 an hour made saving enough money difficult.
“When I turned 16 and I got my driver’s license,” Kim recalls, “I still couldn’t afford a car because, well, I came from a middle-class, first-generation Asian family, and my dad’s not going to buy me a car. I mean, it didn’t matter what my grades were at that point.”
He figured the next best thing to owning a car was working with cars, so he got a job washing cars at a dealership.
“That was my solution,” he says. “That was my first mindset: ‘Okay, let me go at least get to drive cars.’”
Kim worked at the dealership until he went off to college. During summer break, he returned and asked for his old job back, but they said the positions had been filled. He felt defeated. But as he walked out of the office, one of the salespeople spotted him and asked him a question that would change the trajectory of his career: Why don’t you try selling cars?
Thanks to his excellent work ethic in the past, the manager hired him on the spot. During Kim’s first month, he sold 31 cars, made $14,000, and became salesman of the month, at the age of 19. Some brushed it off as beginner’s luck.
“That just fuels the fire in me,” Kim says. “That’s how I am. I’m a competitive person.”
His second month, Kim made even more money and, again, was named salesman of the month. That’s when he decided to make the difficult decision to drop out of college.
“Now, as an Asian growing up in an Asian family, it was probably the hardest conversation that I ever had with my family,” Kim says. “My parents did not approve. They thought I was crazy. They thought I was wasting my life, ruining my life.”
As a compromise, he agreed that after a couple of years of making money, he’d go back to school and fund his own education.
After that conversation, Kim went full time at the dealership and was doing well, but being the ambitious kid that he was, he felt he could do even better. He noticed a finance position opened up at the dealership, and he was drawn to the challenge of selling intangible goods—life insurance, car insurance, paint protection, etc.
“I wanted to be that guy to sell that intangible because I thought it was really fun to take it to the next level.”
Excited by the possibility, he asked if he could take the finance position. The manager said he would need to speak with the general manager, and a couple days later, came back to Kim and said the position had already been filled.
“The anger inside of me actually grew at that point,” he says, “which, I’m not an angry guy at all, but for some reason, I just felt like he was lying.”
Infuriated, Kim marched up to the general manager’s office (“It’s totally disrespectful. I should have never have done that.”), and told him he couldn’t stand the place and he was quitting.
A month later, he got a call from the owner of the company, inviting him to come back and talk it out. Kim shared his aspirations with the owner, and eventually, was sent to a finance class where he obtained his certifications and earned his coveted spot in the dealership’s finance department, where he eventually worked his way up to finance director.
At 25 years old, Kim became general manager of a Saturn dealership, and under his oversight, it became one of the top 10 Saturn dealerships in the nation.
The End of an Era, the Start of an Empire
In 2009, General Motors, which owned Saturn, filed for bankruptcy, forcing Kim to make his next move.
“It was kinda sad,” he recalls. “I remember that bittersweet moment that it was the end of that realm.”
With GM going under, some people wanted to reopen the Saturn dealerships as Kia stores instead. They asked Kim if he’d be interested in helping, and he agreed to help them get started, but set a hard date for when he would leave the auto industry.
“I realized that this isn’t what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”
Kim wasn’t entirely sure what he did want to do, but he had a friend, Anik Singal, who had an internet marketing company, and he’d always been curious about what he was doing. So he approached him and said, “Look, I don’t know what’s going on as far as what you actually do in business, but there’s one thing I’m really good at—I can sell stuff and I’m really good at operations.”
The timing was perfect. At that point, Singal’s company had more than $1 million in debt and needed help. The two friends worked out an agreement. Kim would help the company get out of debt, but in exchange, Singal would teach Kim everything he knew. As soon as the company was out of debt, Kim would move on.
And just like that, Kim went from making around $250,000 to $300,000 a year at the dealership to about $80,000 a year at the internet marketing company. But remember, for Kim, it’s all about focus, and he had a plan.
By 2013, after delivering on his promise to get Singal’s company out of debt, Kim transitioned to the next phase of his career by starting his own internet marketing company, JK Marketing. In 2016, he estimates that business brought in $4.5 million in revenue.
From Side Hustle to Full-Fledged Business
While Kim was running his internet marketing company, he and his team developed an in-house solution to their email marketing woes: Sendlane.
“We never intended it to be anything else but for us,” he says. “That was the number one thing: We built it for us. It was a platform. It was ugly. It was purposeful. That was all we built it for.”
But by 2014, friends and clients alike began asking Kim where they could find out more about Sendlane. The problem was, they couldn’t. All that existed was a login page for Kim’s company to use to access the app. So in 2015, he and his team decided to open the doors to the public and see what happened. They put up a simple webpage with a payment portal—and people started signing up. From 2015 to 2017, they ran it passively. In its first year, Sendlane reached $40,000 to $50,000 in monthly recurring revenue. By 2016, it climbed to $80,000 to $90,000 a month.
So there Kim was, juggling his internet marketing company, a growing side business, and on top of that, a clothing store in Las Vegas. But in August 2017, a life event changed everything for him. His daughter was born.
“The moment I saw her I realized that I needed to find more time in my life,” he says. “Yet I knew that I couldn’t slow down business because I love business too much. So I had to find a good balance.”
To do that, Kim decided to sell most of his companies and revive his favorite tactic—focus. He would pour his energy into one company only, and it would be Sendlane.
“I took that hard look,” he says. “I looked at the companies and I was like, ‘You know, this is the company that I can see incredible legs, and I know we haven’t focused on it, but look what we did without even focusing on it. What can we do by simply focusing on it?”
That was in August 2017. From September 2017 to May 2018, Sendlane grew an average of 10 percent, month over month.
Bootstrapping Versus Raising Capital
That age-old question. So far, Sendlane has been 100 percent bootstrapped, but Kim says he will be raising capital to the tune of $5 million later this fall.
“Bootstrapping is great and it’s a way of life, of course, and I totally respect it, and I think that it’s been a great journey for me.”
But as someone once explained it to Kim, you can own 33 percent of a $30 million bootstrapped company, or you can own 20 percent of a $100 million VC-funded company.
“Being bootstrapped, you’re always going to slow yourself down because of revenue and money,” Kim explains. “But when you have a large infusion of money, it becomes a different mindset because now all you’re focused on is growth and not the money.”
And what would Kim do with an infusion of $5 million? He says he plans to spend the majority of the funding on growth, such as media buying and salespeople, keeping a close eye on getting an ROI as fast as possible.
The One Thing Your Email Marketing Needs
While we had his attention, of course we had to ask Kim to share some of his email marketing knowledge. The first thing Kim wants people to know, though, is that you can’t use outdated tactics and expect awesome results.
“People are still trying to do what worked in email marketing in 2008, in 2018,” he says. “People don’t recognize things have changed so dramatically. … People are just getting a heck of a lot more emails every day.”
In fact, a whopping 269 billion emails are sent each day, according to a 2017 report by research firm The Radicati Group. So how can you stand out in a crowded inbox? Kim recommends behavior-based automation.
Using your email marketing platform, create emails based on actions a user took (or didn’t take). Did they open your emails? Did they buy anything? What kinds of actions have they taken in the past?
For example, if a subscriber isn’t opening any of your emails, it may be time to get more aggressive. On the other hand, if a subscriber is opening all of your emails but hasn’t made a purchase, that tells you they’re highly engaged, but for whatever reason, they’re not buying. It may be time to move that subscriber into a separate email funnel that pushes them to make a purchase.
“Creating that personalized experience is, bar none, the best way to make people want to actually listen to you and want to open your emails,” Kim says. “That’s email automation and that’s the best way you can do it now, in 2018, and forward.”
This level of personalization can be achieved with email marketing software that allows tagging, revenue tracking, and “if this, then that” statements.
“Things like that you can do with email, you can do with Sendlane of course, but you can do it with most email platforms that are more advanced thinking.”
What’s Next for Sendlane and Jimmy Kim?
Aside from raising a round of funding later this year, Kim has an entire roadmap for Sendlane that he wants to continue to implement.
“I’m not going to tell you that I’m not going to ever sell the company,” he says, “because if someone offers me enough money, I’m going to sell the company, and I’m going to move on to the next project. But the coolest thing about that is, being the owner or founder, you don’t have to worry about that if you just put your heart and soul into it.”
Kim also wants to put more time into sharing nearly a decade’s worth of his digital marketing knowledge. He plans to get more into vlogging; he’s already started a YouTube channel where he shares tips on anything from Facebook ads to affiliate marketing. And a recent project he’s particularly proud of is the Advanced Email Marketing course he put together in collaboration with Foundr.
“It’s always been kind of a small passion of mine to share this information,” he says. “Whenever comes out, that’s something you should be looking for.”
Kim’s 4 Tips for Founders
- It’s better to be really good at one thing than mediocre at 100 things. “Too many companies try to do too many things,” Kim says. “But if you’re really good at three things, you’re much better of a company or product than you are if you can do a hundred things but do them at half ass and mediocre.”
- Make decisions as quickly as possible. If you, like many founders, are struggling with indecision, take Kim’s approach and go with your gut. “One of the biggest failures of most entrepreneurs is they get stuck on decisions so much. They take days, weeks, years, thinking about decisions, how to do this, what to do, how to start, whatever it is. I think the biggest thing as an entrepreneur is kind of following your gut and making that decision as fast as possible.”
And Kim reminds us: “The worst thing you can do is fail.” And while many people fear failure, it can teach you what you need to learn.
- You are replaceable. Like many entrepreneurs, Kim used to think it was better to do some things himself rather than train someone else to do it. “I’d sit there and I’d think, ‘Oh, I can do these tasks the best. I’ll never find someone to replace me.’ Well, I find out really quickly lately—I’ve been humbled a lot in the last couple years especially—I realized there’s a lot of people that are much better than me at most of the things that I do.” So instead of trying to do everything himself, Kim invests in top talent to grow his business.
- Great talent is worth the extra money. When hiring new team members, it’s best not to be too stingy when it comes to salary. Realize it’s an investment in the future growth of your company.“You focus on that talent, and the money comes with the talent, and money comes with what they’re building. … I know how, especially in the early-stage companies, it’s really tough when you’re hiring people to make things work, but when you chose the life of being an entrepreneur or a founder, well, you kind of chose the life of being poor at some times and being broke at some times, and struggling sometimes. … That’s all fine and dandy, you’ve got to get through that part.”After hiring people and spending months training them only to find out they weren’t good at the position, Kim decided to spend more money to get the best people possible. He says it’s made a world of difference.
NEW COURSE ALERT: Want to learn advanced email marketing secrets from the cofounder of Sendlane? In our latest course, Jimmy Kim is sharing all the knowledge he’s learned to help you transform your email list into a money-making MACHINE.
In Advanced Email Marketing, you’ll learn:
- A step-by-step automation blueprint for making sales while you sleep. If you have an online business, this is GOLD for you!
- The proven, 3-part “cookie system” that will make your subscribers look forward to your emails
- The 50/50 “spam formula”—this one’s your ticket to escaping the dreaded “Promotions” tab!
- The 3-second hack that increases opens and builds connections
- The rest of Jimmy’s 10-year brain dump of in-the-trenches email marketing expertise
To be the first to know when Advanced Email Marketing is open,
- Why he chose selling cars over going to college
- How he moved on to an internet marketing company and helped it get out of debt
- Why he created Sendlane
- The life-changing event in 2017 that made him decide to pursue Sendlane full time
- Whether or not he plans to raise capital for Sendlane
- His thoughts on equity crowdfunding
- How he would spend the money if he got an influx of capital
- His thoughts on media buying
- How businesses can improve their email marketing
- Why you should focus on behavior-based email marketing
- How decision-making is such a stumbling block for entrepreneurs—and how to fix it
- On hiring and spending money on the best talent
Full Transcript of Podcast with Jimmy Kim
Nathan: The first question that I ask everyone that comes on is how did you get your job?
Jimmy: Job? What job?
Nathan: Yeah, like the work you’re doing today.
Jimmy: Okay, so you want to know my story, basically how I am here, where I got here, and how I got here? Right?
Jimmy: Okay, so I like to tell the story. It’s a couple minutes long, but I think it’s pretty interesting story, most people seem to pay attention to me about it. So I’ll just start there. So my career and my life, my first life I guess I look at it, is I started at the age of 16 years old. So I got my first job 14, 15 years old making pizzas at a local pizza place making $4 an hour because I wanted to save for a car.
And I remember that story was really funny because I was saving, but when you’re making $4 an hour, it’s really hard to save for a car. And you’re only working like 10 hours a week. So I was doing that, and I remember when I turned 16 and I got my driver’s licence, I still couldn’t afford a car because where I came from, middle class, first generation, Asian family, my dad’s not going to buy me a car. It didn’t matter what my grades were at that point. So I realised the next thing and the best thing I can do besides that, is go work at a dealership where I can wash cars and get to drive cars all the day. And that was my solution. That was my first mindset. Okay, let me go at least get to drive cars.
So I started to work for this dealership. And what was really cool was I was working for them, and I was working, enjoying my job. I was working through school. And then college came along, and I had to leave for college, which was cool. And so the first summer I got back from college, the first thing I did was rush back to my old job and say, “Hey, I’m back from college. You guys told me when I get back from college you guys will let me come back and work.” And at that time, I was living large because I was making like six bucks an hour, something like that, funny. And what was funny was I went back there and they were like, “Hey look kid, unfortunately all the positions are filled. You’re just coming back for the summer, so I can’t really make a position move, but maybe try back in a month or so.”
And you know, I was kind of bummed out and I remember walking out and one of the sales guys there who’s seen me over the years was like, “Hey kid, where are you going?” And I was like, “Yeah, they didn’t have any jobs, I’m going to try out some other dealerships.” He’s like, “Hey, why don’t you come try selling cars instead?” You know what I mean? He’s like, “Your first summer back from college, and I know you went to college, but there’s a lot of money in cars, and you should really think about selling cars.” So, here I am nineteen years old … Yeah, I think I was nineteen years old, gung ho about selling cars. I walked in, of course the manager hired me on the spot because he knew who I was and how my work ethic was. I worked hard, and I showed up on time and all that good stuff, and I started selling cars.
So here’s what happened, and this is where things got interesting, and you coming in an Asian culture as well, just like me, may understand this a little bit more. I sat back and the first month I sold cars, I was the salesman of the month, sold 31 cars, and made $14,000. Now think about that, nineteen years old, made $14,000 his first month as just a summer job. There’s a lot of banter, people say, “Oh, I got lucky. First time luck.” That just fuels the fire in me. That’s how I am, I’m a competitive person. So the second month in, I was salesman of the month again, and made more money the next month. I think I made $18,000 the second month. That’s when I made the decision that I’m not going back to school.
Now, as an Asian … Growing up in an Asian family, it was probably the hardest conversation I ever had in my family. My parents did not approve, they thought I was crazy, they thought I was wasting my life, ruining my life. And we made the promise that after a couple of years of making money, I’d go back to school and pay my own way through college. That’s where we ended off that conversation. So right after that, I decided to go full time, and I was just selling cars, making the money. I’m an ambitious kid. When you’re young, and your ambitious, it makes you want to do things.
I remember this is the funny story that I always think about, and this is kind of like that pivotal moment for me when in was thinking about where these decisions happen. I think this is the entrepreneur in me that started to peak out. I remember one day, I was looking around, and I was like, “Selling cars is good, but I feel like I’m at the top. Now what can I do?” So I looked over and saw this finance position. You’re selling finance, these are the guys that after you close the deal you gotta solve the intangible items. That sounded like a great challenge selling a life insurance, car insurance, gap insurance, paint protection, all that stuff that you sell when you buy a car. When you go and … I wanted to be that guy, to sell that intangible because I thought it was really fun to take it to the next level.
So I went to my manager, really excited, “Hey, I think I know what I want to do next. I know there’s an opening. Do you think we can do this?” He was like … I remember he talked to me about it, and he was just like, “You know, let me see what I can do, let me go talk to the general manager.” He went up, a couple days later he came back and shook his head and was like, “Sorry, kid. Unfortunately, the position has been filled and they’re not interested. They’d rather have you on the floor right now, but maybe in a couple months.” The anger inside of me actually grew at that point, which I’m not an angry guy at all, but for some reason I just felt like he was lying. Later on, I discovered I’m a great poker player, by the way. I realised I learned how to read people somewhere along the line.
I remember I marched up to that next dealership … So I was at the Mitsubishi, Isuzu, Kia, dealership and I remember I stormed up to the Chevrolet dealer up top, where the general manager sat, and I went in his face and started getting angry. It’s totally disrespectful what I did, I shouldn’t ever have done that, but it’s a great life lesson for me. I remember I just told him, “I quit, I can’t stand this place, I’m outta here.” Gung ho, top of the thing. It’s crazy, crazy little story. I remember a month later, I get a call, it’s the owner of the company, and he’s calls me to come back in.
What was interesting about that story was I come back in, we talk, and I told him my aspirations. I want to be at the top, I don’t want to be at the bottom. He’s like, “Well, look kid, you got a lot to learn”, and all that stuff. So I said, “Great, send me somewhere. Do something.” So next thing know I’m sitting in the Chevrolet dealership, I’m selling cars with a promise in two months I get to go to Kansas, where I’m gonna go for a two week class to learn finance, get insured, get my certifications and all that stuff. Low and behold, two months later we did that.
So here I am, back at the same dealership, just in a different department, working finance. Eventually, what was really fun about that is, this is a weird situation and I’m not sure if I handled it correctly, but it worked out well for me. I found out later on, even though I was producing such great numbers, I felt like my checks were the smallest. I couldn’t figure out why. Low and behold, I found out there was some theft going on in the company, and I reported it. One thing led to another, I opened up a whole ring of the other guys who worked with me, and unfortunately they weren’t doing the most positive things, and they were doing things that were illegal. They were stealing from the company. One thing led to another, and suddenly I’m sitting alone up there as the finance director and everyone else has been removed from me. They were like, “Okay, you’re the temporary acting guy. We’re gonna go hire people.”
And because I became the most senior, even though it’d only been a year, year and half of me being in that position, I really just started to excel, and started taking control, learn management at that point, and started to control and be the leader at that point. And over that time, it was really good. I was doing great numbers. There’s a lot of sales chart, like behind the scenes sales charts against other dealerships, and we were posting up great numbers. That’s when I got poached. I got poached by another company, trying to get me to come over to them, but they didn’t want me to come over as more financing. They wanted me to come and run the store, and not just one store, but eventually three stores. That’s where I became a general manager for a Saturn dealership in … What year was it, 2000 … I can’t remember. I was 25 when it happened.
So I was really young, I didn’t know what I was doing, but I jumped in there and got in. What happened was again, I put all my heart into it, and pushed really hard, and worked hard, and within just a couple months we were the top 10 Saturn dealership in the nation. Then I started adding other dealerships under my belt that we already had. It was a great experience at that time.
Now, in 2008 when General Motors decided to go under, this is where it gets really interesting. General Motors went under in the United States. They went bankrupt, right?
Jimmy: And Saturn was one of the companies that they just completely eliminated off the map. It was kind of sad. I remember that bittersweet moment that it was the end of that realm. They came to me and said, “Hey, we want to reopen these stores as Kia stores. Would you be interested?” And that’s when the difference of decision, where it continues to be the big thing for me, I realised that this isn’t what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, so I told him flat out, “I understand that you want me to help open the Kia dealership. I understand you want to give me a percentage of the ownership of the dealership, but I’m not interested, but I will help you because out of respect to you guys. Help you open and get that company started, but then I’m gonna leave.” We set a hard date. I said May of 2008, I decided I’m leaving the dealership, and it’s time to move on.
I remember it was then I left, I took a little break, and at that point I wasn’t really 100% sure what I was gonna do. But at that time, I had a friend that lived locally. His name is , and he had a great internet marketing company over there. I always was curious what he was doing. That’s when I went over to him, and I said, “Look, I don’t know what’s going on as far as what you do actually in business, but there’s one thing I’m really good at. I can sell stuff, and I’m really good at operations, so I know your company.” Because him and I had become really good friends, and he talks about this pretty publicly. He was at 1.6 million dollars debt in his company. He was looking to figure out how to fix this problem.
Nathan: Oh, wow.
Jimmy: I came in and said, “I will help you, but in exchange … You need to teach me what you know, and I will help you get out of debt. And the moment you get out of debt, I will go off and do my own thing.” That was our deal. I remember I went from making … I was making an average of $250, $300,000 a year at that point, and I went under $100,000. I think it was like $80,000 after that. That was the biggest change, but again decisions, right? I’ll talk about decisions later on a lot more about it. From there I learned, and by I think it was late 2012, early 2013, I fulfilled my promise. We got the company completely out of debt. We got them on a positive turn, and that was the day I exited the company, and I said, “It’s time for me to start my own thing.”
So from there, I left and I started to run a similar business to Onick’s but I focused more on software, and a little bit more deft in … He was more like the info guy, he talks information, he teaches information, and he does a little bit of software. But I focused up on building softwares and so forth. And through those next couple years, I started to build a pretty decent business. I think the last year that I had that business, in 2016, we did like four and half million dollars. It wasn’t a small business. So we built that business, and while that business was growing, Sendlane kind of started developing at that same exact time. What happened was very simple, the problem was people didn’t understand what digital marketing or informarketing was back in 2012. So if you had these other large companies, and you started to do the things that we do, unfortunately, people tended to look away as we were doing something fraudulent or scamming because we’re promoting other companies and so forth, with our affiliate marketing site, and they didn’t like that.
So we decided we’re gonna build our own solution. When we built that own solution, it was never intended to be anything else but for us. That was the number one thing. We built it for us, it was a platform, it was ugly, it was purposeful. That was all we built it for. What got really interesting is by 2014, we had people knocking on our door, friends, clients, customers, saying, “Hey, what is this Sendlane thing you guys are using? What is this company you guys are using to send? I can’t find anything about them on the web?” And I said, “Well, there is nothing about the web because all we have is a log in page because all we do is we log in, and we use this app to do our thing. We automate, email, and we make email. We send email.”
So I remember, we made a decision in 2015, January, and we were just like, “You know what, let’s just open the door and see what happens. Let’s just see.” We put up this horrible web page, with a payment portal, that wasn’t probably the best way. I don’t even think that SSL’s or security was in there. I can’t believe people actually signed up back then because there wasn’t any payment security. And people started to sign up. Form 2015 to about 2017, we kind of ran it passively. It was doing very well, I’m not gonna say that it was doing horrible, but it did very well. I think the first year we got up to $40 or $50,000 a month in MRR, which is monthly recurring revenue. Then in 2016, we climbed our way to about 80, 90 grand a month.
And it was all organically through influence by myself and Onick, and using our education side. What we were doing is we were feeding education, teaching there how to do email marketing, then selling them on Sendlane, on our back-end and pushing them into our company. That’s how we were building the company, and it was great and so forth, but there comes a time … At that point, by the way, I also owned a clothing store, a company called New out of Las Vegas, a street wear company because I was always avid of retail fan. That was another thing I was working on the side, which we grew pretty big too as well.
There’s a lot of businesses that were kind of in the thing. Let me tell you what happened. It’s very simple, the life event happened. I had my daughter in August of 2017, and I remember the moment I saw her I realised that I needed to find more time in my life. I needed to find more availability in my life, yet I knew that I couldn’t slow down business because I love business too much. I had to find a good balance of myself. That’s when I made that decision in 2017 that it was time to wrap up everything, sell my ownership, sell my assets, sell my companies off, and just focus on one company.
That’s when I took that hard look, turned back, and I looked at the companies. I was like, “This is the company that I can see with incredible legs, and I know we haven’t focused on it, but look what we did without even focusing on it. What can we do if I simply focus on it?” That was August of 2017, fast forward to May of 2018, we were just discussing this in a meeting today, as we’re talking with the leadership. We’re just talking about how we’ve grown so fast and dramatically. So from September of 2017, to May, we’ve grown an average 10%, month over month. We’ve already over doubled last year’s revenue’s already for this year, and we’re on trajectory to do 3X to 4X this year. All because of one thing, focus. I focused, everyone focused, we all decided to put our heads in and start working on this company.
We have three co-founders, myself, Onick, and another guy named Zack. Me and Zack, we focus every day, day-to-day, on Sendlane, and we’re showing the results of it. It’s been a really incredible journey. As a bootstrap company, funding out of our pockets, and starting this company out of our pockets. We sit here and we employ 25 people now, full-time, here at our San Diego office. We just remoulded to a beautiful 6,000 square foot office here, and we just continue to grow. We’re already looking at what we’re gonna have to do in the next year or two to continue to elevate. That’s my story. That’s where everything is. I kind of pour it out there for you. I know it was a little long, but hopefully that gave you a good idea of who I am.
Nathan: Yeah, amazing man. It did. I just been taking notes. I got a tonne of questions. That’s crazy. I really resonate with what you said around how it was difficult to convince your parents, just from Asian upbringing myself as well, around wanting to leave your job and going … Not pursuing college, and all that kind of stuff, you know?
Jimmy: Yeah, absolutely.
Nathan: I experienced the same thing where … My parents were never, similar to you, never really had a lot of money or anything. My Dad was a teacher, and my Mom was a nurse so they just know that you just work and you get a job. You go to school, you get good grades, and you get a good job. That’s kind of what society tells us to do.
Jimmy: Yeah, and you know there’s a funny story about my Mother. She always used to tell me something, she said … When I was a little kid, my Mom would always say, “You need to be a doctor, you need to be a doctor. That’s gonna make you the most money.” I used to turn to her and say, “I don’t want to be a doctor. I’m gonna make more money than a doctor ever.” You know what I mean? She always reminds me of that story every time she talks to me, and it’s an interesting one because when I was like five, seven years old, this is what I used to say apparently. I don’t remember it, or recall it, but that’s my little funny story.
Nathan: There you go. So yeah man, I can really resonate. Dude, I’m really curious, so you said you ended up selling some of these companies before your daughter was born. I’ve heard this as well, I don’t have any kids yet, but I have friends that they said, “Yeah, once my daughter or my son comes into this world, your whole perspective on life changes.” I’ve heard that many times, and I really respect that ’cause family’s important to me as well. I’m just curious, these other companies man, what happened?
Jimmy: So I’ll tell you about them real quick. One of the companies of course was an eCommerce store, so eCommerce/physical retail store. We sold clothing, we made our own clothing, all that good stuff. What was really cool about it is, I jumped into that company. I bought into that company because they were struggling, they needed some money, they needed some revenue, and I saw a lot of life for them. The first one was a company called New. 2014, I bought into that company. They were doing about 800 grand in revenue, and the one thing I could bring to the company I told them was two things. The two things I could bring was operations and media buy-in because those were my specialties.
I remember we scaled that business by 2016 to 2.9 million dollars, so from $800,000 to 2.9 in two years, growing an eCommerce store all based on advertising and just structuring the company better. So we grew that company really fast, but the biggest problem that we continued to have, me and my partner … I love him, and there’s nothing wrong with him, we’re still friends to this day, was that we just saw a very different vision. Finding co-founders that are founders or owners of businesses having the same vision, super important. My vision was to blow it up, make it as big as possible and cash out because I thought that’s how clothing works because that is how clothing works. You’re a hero today, zero tomorrow. I knew that and understood that in business, but him it was such more passion for it. It was such more of a vision for it, he wanted to make it cool and relevant all the time.
That created a battle between us a lot because he wanted to talk about scaling back marketing, while I wanted to rake up marketing, spend more money, order more clothes, get more stuff, get more sales, get more people. I’m the guy who pushes, and I’m the guy who comes with sales experience. We can in a difference of opinions, we realised, “Hey, look the best thing we can do is part ways as friends. I’ll sell you back my ownership, and we’ll part ways.” And that’s what we did. That was my first one. That was happening before my daughter was born, but I knew she was already pregnant when I made that decision. That was the first one.
The second company was my personal private one, the same one when I left Onick in 2013, that I grew. And that company grew tremendously. We were creating all these different little mini … What I used to call them, and it’s not a real term, but I used to call them little micro SASes. They were just products that did one little thing that they did really well. So like an ebook cover creator, a doodle video animation creator, a click tracking platform. A lot of little, great little features, and they would all do a little bit of revenue, but they all added up together, and we created a great customer culture and stuff.
When I sold that company, it wasn’t … I sold the assets of the company, I still technically own that company, but I don’t have any assets left in that company. I literally went off and was able to turn around and quickly, within a matter of a month and a half, sell seven different properties off, software properties, with reoccurring revenue off to five different people I sold seven different properties off to.
Jimmy: That was a nice way to sell out. And it came with my reputation and products. I had an ultra-low refund rate, super happy level customers. I sold products that did one thing. That’s the one thing I’ll tell you that too many companies try to do too many things. Or people think that people want a thousand things, but if you’re really good at three things, you’re much better of a company or a product than you are if you can do 100 things, but do them half-ass and mediocre. That’s always been the thought process in my head, and that’s how I always looked at things. That’s what we did, and I was able to sell those off. I remember I started that sale in July of 2017, right before my daughter was born. I completed the last sale in December of 2017, so over the next couple months I was able to sell, contracts legal and all that stuff. I had buyers out pretty fast within the first month just to get everyone going. Then we just went into legal and all that good stuff. Yeah, I was able to exit out all my assets and move on.
Nathan: Yeah, wow. And I really like what you said. So you believe with a good SAS company is good at only one thing or three things?
Jimmy: Well, I mean … When I say one thing, or three things, it doesn’t matter. What I mean by that is focus on what you are. Sendlane, we’re an email automation company. We are really good at email. I’m not good at landing pages, I’m not good at bundles, I’m not good at this, that, I’m just really good at email automation, and I like it that way. As opposed to a company that may offer what we offer, plus this, plus that, plus that. Then they end up diluting where they’re not really good at everything. They’re just kind of okay, good enough, but there’s not value.
The analogy I use is very simple. I don’t know if you’ve ever been on a cruise before, but a cruise … When you go on a cruise, you’re all inclusive, at least in American it is. And when you go on a cruise the food is not great, but it’s abundant, and it’s okay. So you’re like, “Eh, it’s okay. It’s okay.” You know what I mean? That’s how I look at it, but you don’t get like, “Oh man, that food is amazingly great.” like when you go to a nice restaurant. You know what I mean? That’s how I always like to compare it. That’s how I look at in SAS and any business actually, it doesn’t matter. If you’re just really good at a core feature, or a core product, whatever you’re trying to do. I guess whatever your core demographic, or niche, or whatever it is, that’s where you’re gonna be good. When you try to get to big, and try to do too much, you start to hurt yourself, I think. That’s always been my mindset with things. That’s why I’ve been able to grow so dramatically and fast in many instances.
Nathan: Yeah, I think that’s a really good thing to touch on because I learned this lesson as well. When you try … We’ve had to shut down things we’ve then founded because it … Just because you can launch something, and you can get it profitable, that function or something to make more money to grow your business, doesn’t mean you necessarily should do it. When you’re trying to scale, a lot of times you think you should create more, but sometimes it’s just creating less and focusing on less.
Jimmy: Yep, absolutely.
Nathan: Are you familiar … I think focus is so underrated. I love how you said you didn’t really try to grow Sendlane, it grew basically pretty much organically, and then once you actually started focusing on it, and it’s just an insane obsession … I can see now that work ethic, and you love to compete, and yeah, man. You guys are just double downing, double downing, double downing now on Sendlane. I’m really curious, you guys are a bootstrap, do you think you will raise capital? What’s the plan there? Are you gonna stay bootstrapped?
Jimmy: Yeah, absolutely. This is something that we discussed a lot between the three of us, pretty heavily last couple of months because it goes like this basically … This is something that someone said to me, and it kind of resonated with me pretty fast about being bootstrapped. Bootstrap and everything is great, and it’s a way of life of course. I totally respect it, and I think that it’s been a great journey for me for multiple companies, and I only knew what bootstrapping was, but he said it this way. He said, “Look, you can continue doing what you do, and become a 20 million dollar company, 30 million dollar company, whatever you want. And you may own, 33% of a 33 million dollar company.” He goes, “Or, you could take in five million dollars, 10 million dollars of money, and you become 20% owner of 100 million, 200 million, 400 million dollar company.” He goes, “Think about this, okay?”
And the thing difference that you’re gonna find is that being bootstrapped, you’re always gonna slow yourself down because of revenue and money, but when you have a large infusion of money, it becomes a different mindset because now all you’re focused on is growth, and not the money. It’s the same thing they say about everybody. If you focus on the growth and not the money, that’s usually what’s gonna happen, or the product, or whatever it may be. So the answer is simple. I am going to be raising money, not this summer, but this fall. I’m taking a total different approach than typical guy.
I’m not gonna go pitch a thousand people and try to slam my way into money. I want to actually go out this summer and meet probably 100 VCs. I want to go sit in their office. Never talk about the product, or what we’re doing, or what we’re raising. I just want to meet them and see if they’re a fit to be a real partner, to be able to help me grow and scale. I’m looking for partners, not looking for just capital. So I look at it that way, where I’m looking at it a little bit different, but I will be raising probably about five million dollars this fall.
Nathan: Yeah, okay amazing. One thing I’ve always wondered ’cause Foundr’s 100% bootstrapped, and look I’m not indifferent of being bootstrapped or raising capital. I’m curious have you thought about doing equity crowd funding or anything interesting like that?
Jimmy: I thought about that, I just … Okay, this might be the human emotion in me, but I feel really weird about doing a crowd fund ’cause it tends to have people who may not supposed to be involved in this world, or investing in anything. I don’t want to … There’s always risk no matter what. I truly believe in myself, but at that same time I feel kind of bad, and weird, asking people that may or may not actually be part of it, like family friends. That stuff has always been really weird for me, so I like the idea of taking money from a fund where they just have so much money they just want to put money in there.
Nathan: Yeah, I know what you mean. They’re just opening up equity crown funding in Australia. The government’s … They have to let it pass, and someone that I know, he runs one of the largest crowd funding platforms in Australia. He’s pivoting … He set up a second company, which is equity crowd funding, and he come to me because we do a successful crowd funding campaign. He said, “You guys should do … Foundr should do an equity crowd funding campaign.” I know what you mean. You don’t want to feel like you’re begging, right?
Jimmy: Yeah, exactly. And I feel like that’s what it comes down to. If you can’t get a professional investor to invest in your company, and you need to go crowd fund … Not saying there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just to me I’d rather have a professional on my side. Plus, let’s not face … I’m sure you know this, having great people on your side is always a good thing. People who know what’s going on in business, who can actually help you, that you can make a phone call. When you do this crowd funding, or equity crowd funding, you don’t really get that partner. You don’t get that extra oomph that you expect by giving away equity in the company.
Nathan: Yeah, no not at all. You don’t get the expertise. You basically get the funds plus have ambassadors for your brand that will go out and just spread it like wildfire. That was something that I found interesting. That’s what he told me the whole play was.
Jimmy: Got it. Well, our company is not sexy enough as a company to be ambassadors. I don’t see people running around going, “You want to know about email automation?” I don’t know how many people really care about that. That’s the second part. At least for you, you have Foundr, which is like something cool, entrepreneur. Everyone’s talking about it right now, so might as well leverage that, right? But yeah, who’s gonna tell them about email automation. Let’s be serious. You know what I mean?
Nathan: Yeah, I agree man, I agree. So I’m curious as well, if I got five millions injected into Foundr, I’d scale up big time in terms of hiring. We’d set up a couple offices. set one in New York, one in L.A., is that kind of a … What’s the plan? You just scale up on hiring and customer acquisition, right?
Jimmy: I would spend almost 80% of the money, majority, on just growth. I would spend it on media buying, and salespeople, and making sure that we’re maximising it. I don’t like to waste money, so I would take that money and make sure that I return an ROI on that money as fast as possible.
Nathan: Yeah. And when it comes to media buying, you said that’s one of your strong slates. You came into that eComms, and you just did media buying and ops.
Nathan: When you do media buying, what’s your rule of thumb? Do you look for a three-to-one, and two-to-one? And how long, over what time period do you expect to make that back? Or do you try and be profitable on the front end? I’m curious to hear your thoughts on that side of things.
Nathan: Especially the SAS company as well.
Jimmy: Sure, absolutely. So if I’m looking at eCommerce company, for example, I need to make ROI instantly. Usually at least two to three times that ROI is the goal because costs, everything else starts getting pushed into there, not just your media spend. If I’m looking at something like a SAS product, you’ve got to figure out what your new numbers are, the details are, and the numbers. You gotta know how much your customers are worth, what the average stick rate, return rate is, basically understanding your lifetime value of the customer. And then really, just determine how much you can spend based around how much they do.
For example, for me if I spend $100 to acquire a customer for Sendlane, I’m pretty safe because I know in two and half months, knowing my churn rate, which everything all slides up, two and half to three months, I’m starting to break even on that point. From there it becomes profit, if that makes sense. When I know my average customer value is about six times the value that I’m spending on my CPA of making that acquisition, if that makes sense to you?
Nathan: Yes. 100%.
Jimmy: That’s how I look at it that way too as well. You’ve got to always look at it multiple ways. It really just depends on your business. In the SAS business, it’s all about … It’s a reoccurring business, so it makes it a little bit easier, but if you were selling something like a shirt, which we did a lot of, I know my $30 shirt, I had to get my customer at under $10, in order for it to be semi-profitable, and under $7 makes it really profitable. That’s how I knew it.
Nathan: Yeah, gotcha. Man, we gotta talk a little bit about email marketing because you’re one of our teaches, teaching our advanced email marketing course. I haven’t seen it yet, but I’m told that it’s just absolutely insane. I helped work on the course structure, and I’m really excited to get our team to go through it. Yeah, man. Talk to me, if somebody isn’t using email effectively right now, or they’re … They send emails … Let’s just say somebody’s listening in, they’ve got a company, they’re sending emails probably around promotions or what not. They run a sale every now and then, but that’s about it. Where’s a good place people can start when it comes to email on raising your lead value?
Jimmy: That’s a loaded question, you know that? What’s really interesting is this. Let’s back it up real quick, and talk about this. The evolution of email is changing so much. The biggest thing that I tell people is very simple. People are still trying to do what worked in email marketing in 2008, in 2018, if that makes sense? People don’t recognise that things have changed so dramatically, and it all starts with the basic simple. People are just getting a heck of a lot more email every day. What’s the last stat? I think the last stat was 2015, which was 145 emails per day. I’m guessing we’re probably up to 180, 200 emails per day. I’m sure you can attribute that in your inbox as well too, right?
Nathan: Yeah, 100% man. It’s crazy.
Jimmy: So what it is, is all about cutting through a noise and being someone that someone wants to not only listen to, and also can be relatable to and so forth. There’s no right or wrong at the end of the day. It’s all about how you build it. We talk about the word tribe, right? You’re talking about your tribe, the people who listen to you, the people who want to be a part of your company, want to do it. I was talking about a great company with one of my co-founders just the other day. A company called Touch of Modern, which sells higher end, really cool gadgets.
I told them I always look for those emails. Every day they come, and they sell me on everything, and then he goes, “Do you ever buy anything?” I said, “No, I haven’t actually bought anything, I just like to look at things all the time. But I open it and click all the time.” He was laughing, he goes, “Then they’re not doing effective email marketing.” I said, “Well, probably not because they’re not pushing any urgency one me. They’re not giving me any incentive or reason to be buying.” They just taught me about some cool stuff that I can look at, and one day when I think I need that random thing like a pizza oven for my grill, when I think I need that, I’m gonna go back to them a buy it. In fact, I was thinking about it, but I still haven’t pulled the trigger. But if they would have put a timer on that page, or told me that this was my last chance to buy it, and told me that it’s gonna go up in price, I would have snatched it up 10 seconds ago and bought it.
The idea and mindset of email, and availability, and just value and so forth, is just so different these days. I think the evolution started in that essence. So to come back to your question and say where would you start, that’s probably the most loaded question that I’ve heard. I don’t have a good answer for that.
Nathan: Sorry man.
Jimmy: Yeah, there’s probably a million places that you can start, but I don’t know what’s right or wrong to say. But I guess to start, go get a great course that’s gonna teach you the basics on the foundation of email marketing. I know that to me, and I’m sure you were like this too, when you know too much and you realise it, you think that the basics are so easy. But you forget that the basics are also really hard to most people who have never understood it. That’s always something that I … It’s hard for me because I’m so into this space and understanding it, that it’s really hard for me to back up and say what’s a great way to start.
Nathan: Okay. Well then let me try this again. Let’s just take it back. Let’s just say you’re spending … You said you’re prepared to spend $100 to acquire a customer, and that’d probably a trial for Sendlane, right?
Nathan: Yep. So what would you do from an email standpoint to I guess give that person a great experience?
Jimmy: To make sure that we’re … Okay, so that would be … We’re talking about how to get that person in a trial and talk about what we’re doing in order to maximise that person, right?
Jimmy: There’s multiple things that we do, but the biggest thing is obviously you can’t email each and every person that comes through yourself so that’s why email automation is such a powerful thing. But not just email automation, right? So the typical way … This is the typical way that everybody sets up their stuff is very simple. Day one, send this email, day two, send this email, day three send this email, and so forth. There’s nothing wrong with it, it still works, but we know that that’s not the way that you should be sending email anymore because it’s not personalised, it’s not behavioural based. You need to work on it in a way that you’re taking your thought process and email at a total different level.
Think about how your consumers … Remember, the one thing I always like to tell is remember there’s a real person on the other end of it. It’s so easy to forget that when you’re working on the internet, and you’re working on your internet business, that there’s a real person on the end of that. So cater to that spirit, and try to make it feel like they’re working with you and not for you, or working towards you. You know what I mean? Work with them, make them feel like they’re a part of it. I call this being more behavioural based automation.
There’s many things that you could do from providing value. I have a thing called cookie system that I talk about how you can create the balance of giving a person a cookie to make them feel like you’re giving them value so you can continue to maintain that relationship with them, and create a tribe. And create events, right? Remember I talked about that Touch of Modern email guys. If they would have thrown and even and say, “For the next three days we’re putting this thing on sale. Come by.”, and sent me a couple emails to follow through with that. I would have bought it absolutely.
I talk about that because creating an even for example is a great way to create that value and create that reason for them to continue wanting to listen. There’s other things we do, so if you’re looking at automation, I talk about this. If you are bringing someone into your funnel, so you start a trial. I create a reason for them to continue wanting to read my email. It would be tips, tricks, I try to provide value, I celebrate items. One of the things that people do in trials that I always find funny is that a lot of companies, as it gets closer to the end of the trial, they get quieter, looser and tighter, and try to be really meek about trying to let people know. They don’t want to alert them, whereas we on our side, we actually celebrate it. We actually embrace it and tell them tat they’re joining the team, getting ready to join in being a full-fledged member, and making it a much more positive experience instead of that negative connotation that comes with a trial offer.
I think that that’s important. I think based on their behaviour, do they open or click, do they purchase, did they spend money, did they … Where are they located, what kind of device are they working on, what are they doing, what kind of actions have they done in the past, what have they done with you in the past? Having a lot of detailed, micro segmented information allows you to cater these emails directly and personalise, so a person who may not be opening your emails, you may need to get a little more aggressive. Or they may be a person that opens and clicks all your emails, that’s me of Touch of Modern, they should realise, “Hey, this guy is really engaged with you, but he’s not buying anything. Let’s put him through a different funnel that pushes him to buy something from us so we have an LTD with this guy.”
Or, you got a guy who just buys everything, then you know this is the guys who buys everything. Let’s tag it and make sure that this is the guy that we talk to, connect with, whatever it may be in you businesses, however you do it. But creating that personalised experience is bar-none the best way to make people want to actually listen to, or want to open your emails. That’s email automation, and that’s the best way you can do it now in 2018 and forward.
Nathan: Behaviour, behavioural.
Jimmy: Behaviour events, yes. Intelligent automation, intelligent emails. Making sure that you’re creating these things based on what they’re telling you they want to hear, not what you think they want to hear.
Nathan: So user combination in Sendlane of lead, scoring, and if this statements?
Jimmy: Yeah, if, else statements, tagging, revenue tracking, even now to be targeting and making sure that you’re dropping … Following them around and sending them emails when they visit your webpage, or a check out page, or whatever it may be. For example, an abandoned cart is one of the most powerful types of customers. You should be closing 88% of those people, but most people don’t. They close like 30, 20% of it because they just don’t follow-up. You know what I mean? Follow-up with people, communicate. There’s a reason why Amazon, world’s largest eCommerce, it does such a great job with active carts, and following you all around the internet. At least in America here, when you go on Amazon, you look at a product, it’s gonna follow you on Facebook, it’s gonna follow you on Google, on every other website you go to, and it’s gonna send you an email, or two, or three. You know what I mean? They don’t do that because they like to spend money, they do that because that’s how they close deals and they understand that.
So things like that you can do with email. You can do it with Sendlane of course, but you can do it with most email platforms that are more advanced thinking. That’s what I always say. I don’t like to pick on any company, but there’s a lot of companies out there that don’t have that advanced thinking because … The big thing that I’ve always noticed about SAS companies or tools that we use in our business is there’s practitioners and there’s just people who are thought leaders. People who just think that they know what people want, and there’s people who have done things, like myself. Where you’ve been an email marketer for so long, you really just know what people want, and what the most important aspects of a business are.
Nathan: Yeah, they’re the people that create the best kind of SAS products because they are in the trenches.
Jimmy: Yeah, absolutely.
Nathan: And that’s one of your unfair advantages that you have right now.
Jimmy: Yeah, absolutely. And if I look at every other company that competes with me, I look at most of them and go, “I don’t think that you’ve ever done email marketing in your life. It’s very clear you haven’t because of the features you continue to release, or the feature you think people need.” Versus us, we’re looking at it in a complete different way. I look at my business, what I needed, what I did, and I know that the type of person that I’m looking for is just like me, so why not build products or features that are figured out, that are just for someone like myself. And it always works out really well because everyone gets excited about it.
Nathan: Yeah, no. That’s amazing man. So dude, look we have work towards wrapping up, but one thing you mentioned was around decisions, which you wanted to talk more about. Would you like to share?
Jimmy: Yeah, absolutely. You know, one of the biggest failures of most entrepreneurs is they get stuck on decisions so much. They take days, weeks, years, thinking about decisions, how to do this, what to do, how to start, whatever it is. I think the biggest thing as an entrepreneur is kind of following your gut and making that decision as fast as possible. And eliminating a time zone … And the worst thing you can do is fail. People are so afraid of failure in most cases, but the reality is failure is the one thing that’s gonna grow your foundation to become a better founder, better entrepreneur, and being able to grow a business and do something with yourself.
I’d rather make that decision and fail at it, multiple times, and make multiple decision fails, than ponder for six months and never make that decision not knowing my result of positive or of failure at that point so that’s why I talk about decision and how important they are especially at the early stages. If you’re and early stage founder, you really need to be able to make those decisions. Yeah, it might be a little too expensive. Yeah, it might be a little bit risky. Yeah, it might be this or that, but guess what? You only get one shot, you might as well do it now while you get the shot, instead of sitting back and just trying to decide if that was the right idea or not.
I say with decisions, follow your gut, be impulsive, but educated impulsive. Don’t be just wild, wild west, pulling out a gun, shooting like impulsive, but more educated. Think about it for a second, but don’t think about it for years and months. Just make that decision. It’s a great way to make that decision, and the worst case scenario is you fail at it. Then you learn a lesson, and you move on. What’s the big deal? Life goes on? The saying I say to everybody, and I say it to all my friends is, “It’s never as bad as seems.” Very simple, “It’s never as bad as it seems.” Failure is never as bad as it seems. It’ll teach you something, and you’ll go back and realise that was actually a great idea.
Nathan: Yeah, no. I agree, and you talked about decisions and following your gut. Has your gut ever been wrong?
Jimmy: Oh, absolutely. Many times. All the time, but we don’t talk about those right? Well, we do. We do talk about them, but we do talk about them meaning we talk about them to learn from them, but we don’t focus on them as a problem. We focus on how we do it better, and focus on the solution, as any entrepreneur should do. We never focus on the problem. That’s what I always tell my team too, “Don’t come with me to a problem. Come with me with a solution to the problem that you discovered.”
Nathan: Yeah, that’s a good one. I like that one. One thing you’re talking about offline, which I really liked … We were both talking about this is talent, and when you’re wanting to scale it really is about hiring the best people that have done something before, and just finding great people. That’s how a company is built. I’m obviously the face of Foundr, but … Or you look at Steve Jobs or Elon Musk, like Elon Musk is the face of Tesla, but he’s not … Yes, he’s an extremely smart guy, but he’s got an incredible team behind him that is building everything that he’s building. I think that’s so key. But man, I’m talking too much. Please, you …
Jimmy: Yeah, so what we’re talking about is hiring great people in your community, into your team and stuff like that. We talked about this. Early days, I used to do the same thing, and I always thought that was the right way when I first started my companies, was that I needed to hire people to train them, to teach them my way because I thought I was the best at something, and I needed to get them and train them, and spend months working on them just to find out they’re not good at the position, and then they end up leaving. Then I realised one day, maybe I should just start looking for the best people. The ones that cost a little bit more money, that maybe I can’t afford perfectly, but I can make the sacrifices at work. And the world of difference that you find in a person that knows and understands the task, and knows and understands what’s going on, is the number one thing that you need as a founder, as an entrepreneur. Someone who can do things.
I know that a lot of people listening … And I did the same thing, I’d sit there and I’d think I can do these tasks the best, you’re not … I’ll never find someone to replace. Well, I find out really quickly lately, I’ve been humbled a lot in the last couple years especially. I realised there’s a lot of people that are much better than me at most the things that I do. It’s great that they’re willing to work for me ’cause they don’t want to do their own thing and take the risk. As an entrepreneur, you’re willing to take that risk and be the founder, and be the leader. But at the same time, having a great person under you, or a great team under you that knows what’s going on also, believe me, it’s a heck of a lot of grey hairs out of your head too as well. Just not feeling like you’re always chasing the talent. The talent’s already there, you’re just working with the talent to grow the business.
Nathan: Yeah, and you said something as well that really resonated with me that sometimes you think … I’m first to say I used to think this as well where it’s like I don’t want to pay that amount of money because … It pays its weight in gold, right?
Jimmy: Absolutely, yeah. You focus on that talent, and the money comes with the talent, and the money comes with what they’re building. As long as you, obviously, have that right vision. That parts a little bit tough because I know how … Especially the early stage companies, it’s really tough when you’re hiring people to make things work, but when you chose the life of being an entrepreneur or a founder, you chose the life of being poor at sometimes, and being broke at sometimes, and struggling sometimes, living off Ramen. That’s all fine and dandy, you gotta get through that part. That’s what makes you so strong.
Nathan: I agree, I agree. So dude, we have to work towards wrapping up, but last two questions. This has been awesome. What’s next? You said you’re doing a bit of raising round, but what’s next, and where’s the best place people can find out more about yourself and your work?
Jimmy: Oh, absolutely. So when you mean what’s next, just so I understand clarification, you mean for Sendlane or just myself in general?
Jimmy: Okay, so if I’m looking at Sendlane, we’ve got a whole road map of things that we want to do to continue to elevate the features in our platform that are continuously being congruent to what we’re doing. So it’s just a continuous game of just continuing to move forward, and push. Trying to revolutionise, be the leader in the industry, big goals.
What’s left personally, as far as business side, I don’t know what my future is. I’m sure the next problem will arise as I continue to grow this business, which will eventually trigger my next company. It should be really fun and interesting, but I don’t build this company to get acquire it, or sell, I build this company because I think it’s a really fun passion of mine, and it’s been a great journey, and great people here. I think that the number one thing for me at the end of the day is that I’m gonna keep pushing until something happens. If someone offers me, I’m not gonna tell you that I’m not ever gonna sell the company ’cause if someone offers me enough money, I’m gonna sell the company, and I’m gonna move on to the next project. But the coolest thing about that is being the owner or founder, you don’t have to worry about that if you just put your heart and soul into it.
Then the second question you asked was how to hear more about me. There’s a couple places to learn more about me. I’ve got a YouTube channel that I do share some information. I’ve been pretty terrible at sharing information lately. I got a Facebook page that I get. Don’t share that much information. I guess my real answer is I’m so engulfed in my business and my family right now, I stopped caring about sharing as much. I’m just so focused on it. I think as my daughter starts to grow up … Now, she’s starting to grow up, and things are starting to get a little better, I’m gonna start getting back to blogging and sharing a wealth of knowledge. I love sharing knowledge.
On YouTube for example I used to just share anything and everything. Things that people pay for all the time, I used to give away for free, and people would get very mad at me all the time. I used to get threats about things because of that. So check out my YouTube channel, it’s pretty cool. There’s a lot of random stuff in there for Facebook marketing. Things that I only know. I always keep to things I already know. Then of course, I got my Facebook. Then we’ve got a great blog at Sendlane, so blog.Sendlane.com. If you want to learn anything about email marketing, that’s a great place to also look as well. Great, great information, and very focused on marketing and automation, and that’s all we talk about as well too.
Nathan: Awesome. And we’ve got an epic course coming out soon too, man. Advanced email marketing.
Jimmy: Oh, yeah. Absolutely. The amount of time and energy we put into that, your team and my team. I think that this is gonna be … So if you’re listening to this, and eventually you want to dig into my brain, I did a two day brain dump in Los Angeles. I literally dropped 10 years of knowledge of email marketing at the advanced level that you probably don’t hear about from deliverability to automation, to engagement, to the metrics. The things that people don’t talk about. I’m sure everyone can talk about how to write an email, or talk about how to look at an email, but have you ever thought about the core focus of how an emails put together. Or how the thought process works, how does the technology behind it work, and what are the best practises, and what do those metrics really mean to the health of your list.
These are the things I talked about, and I talked about at such a high level that I really enjoyed it because I did it. The same passion you may hear in my voice here today, I had that same passion for two days straight in a little tiny studio for two days straight. We just went through, and I just shared it all on paper. I’m really excited for it myself because it’s always been kind of a small passion of mine to share this information out there. And Foundr has been giving me the platform to go out there and share this information to the world. I know that we’re gonna do a great job together. I plan on marketing myself too, just because I’m so proud of it myself. 10 years of knowledge, brain dump, two days, all into an advanced email marketing course that gonna be coming out maybe late summer early fall is what we’re talking about.
Jimmy: So whenever it comes out, that’s something you should be looking for.
Nathan: Awesome then. Yeah, dude. I can’t wait to go through it. Like Zack said, you absolutely crushed it. Dude, this is an incredible interview. I just want to say thank you so much for your time, and so great working with you dude-
- Learn more about Sendlane
- Check out the Sendlane blog for email marketing advice
- Watch Jimmy Kim’s digital marketing videos on his YouTube channel